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Immigration Law

Colorado Supreme Court on Preemption, Smuggling: Fuentes-Espinoza v. People

Fuentes-Espinoza v. People, Oct. 10, 2017 - "This case requires the supreme court to determine whether Colorado’s human smuggling statute, section 18-13-128, C.R.S. (2017), is preempted by the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101–1537 (2017) (“INA”). The supreme court concludes that the INA preempts section 18-13-128 under the doctrines of both field and conflict preemption.

In reaching this conclusion, the court agrees with a number of federal circuit courts that have reviewed the same INA provisions at issue here and have determined that those provisions create a comprehensive framework to penalize the transportation, concealment, and inducement of unlawfully present aliens and thus evince a congressional intent to occupy the field criminalizing such conduct. In addition, applying the analyses set forth in those federal decisions, the court concludes that section 18-13-128, like the state human smuggling statutes at issue in the federal cases, stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of Congress’s purposes and objectives in enacting its comprehensive framework.

Accordingly, the supreme court reverses petitioner’s judgment of conviction under section 18-13-128."

[Hats off to Douglas K. Wilson, Ned R. Jaeckle, Hans Meyer, Nicholás Espíritu and Melissa Keaney!]

John Ingold, Denver Post, Oct. 10, 2017 - "The Colorado law was born during a 2006 legislative session that featured heated debates on immigration — and occurred amid a series of crashes on Colorado roads involving overloaded vehicles smuggling immigrants. The law passed with bipartisan support but not without criticism from groups that argued the bill was one of a number that year prompted by anti-immigrant sentiment. On Tuesday, Denver immigration attorney Hans Meyer called the law, “one of the last ugly vestiges” of the 2006 session. “The majority of those laws have either been repealed or struck down,” he said."